You may wonder what NetApp is up to with our latest efforts with VMware and Amazon Web Services. Most of Netapp’s customers are well aware of our long partnership with VMware. We have many mutual customers who are using NetApp® storage behind their on-premises VMware environments. But we also know that our customers are looking to build hybrid cloud solutions that allow even more portability for their virtual applications and their data.
Watching our customers moving to the hybrid cloud model, we recognized an opportunity to improve the connection between the datacenter and cloud storage. Since customers look to AWS as one of the target platforms for their data, we created NetApp ONTAP® Cloud on AWS to address those needs.
VMware is also strategically aligned with AWS on hybrid cloud. We recognized how important it is for NetApp to build strategic partnerships with VMware and AWS to help customers accelerate their digital transformation through the delivery of enterprise-grade, service-oriented IT capabilities for hybrid cloud environments. To help our customers build hybrid cloud solutions using the tools and partners they use today with their on-premises operations as they expand to the cloud. Let’s look at how NetApp and VMware are delivering solutions using the AWS platform and how these can help organizations achieve their cloud operational goals.
So, what is VMware doing with AWS? VMware Cloud on AWS is an on-demand, elastically-scalable cloud service that is delivered, sold, and supported by VMware. VMware and AWS offer a seamlessly integrated hybrid cloud that extends on-premises vSphere environments to a VMware SDDC running on AWS elastic, bare-metal infrastructure. Customers can run applications across operationally consistent VMware vSphere®-based private, public, and hybrid cloud environments, with optimized access to AWS services. Customers can use their existing tools and skillsets within a common operating environment based on familiar VMware software.
Second, a number of NetApp customers are already using ONTAP Cloud for AWS, a software-only storage service for dev/test, disaster recovery, and production applications. This means that for your AWS cloud storage platform, ONTAP Cloud delivers the same set of enterprise-class storage features you’re used to from the FAS or All Flash FAS systems in your data center. With this service, you can take snapshots of your data without requiring additional storage or impacting your application’s performance, and you can tie your cloud storage to your data center by using industry-leading NetApp SnapMirror® replication technology. This delivers the efficiencies found in your enterprise storage array to your AWS cloud storage. Plus, if you’re concerned about security, ONTAP Cloud offers NetApp managed encryption of your at-rest data, while you retain the encryption keys.
How does ONTAP Cloud on AWS fit with VMware Cloud on AWS? Once you have your VMware Cloud virtual machines and your ONTAP Cloud instance running, your VMs can then consume and manage storage from ONTAP Cloud. With the data stored in ONTAP Cloud, the benefits of ONTAP can be applied to the data just like in the on-premises environment. Let’s take a look at a couple of use cases to illustrate how these work together.
Let’s start with a dev/test use case. Customers would use VMware Cloud on AWS to mirror applications to an EC2 instance to stretch out to use cloud-based resources. For each dev or test environment, the customer will want to make clones for each of the VMware-based virtual machines. In some cases, the source data is very large and the copies need to be writable and re-created quickly. A benefit of using ONTAP Cloud storage for these copies comes from FlexClone® thin cloning technology, whereby any volume can be cloned instantly and in a transactionally constant manner for the point in time when it’s taken, regardless of source data size. A redirect-on-write mechanism is used to allocate and write blocks only when data actually changes in the clone, which makes ONTAP FlexClone volumes extremely storage efficient. Although Amazon EBS offers the ability to create snapshots, the first snapshot is essentially a complete copy of the source data. In contrast, ONTAP Cloud reduces consumption starting with the first snapshot, not needing to make complete copy of the initial snapshot. ONTAP Cloud also offers additional storage efficiencies, such as deduplication and compression, that EBS doesn’t offer.
Another way customers could use VMware Cloud on AWS and ONTAP Cloud is for user data or home directories for virtual desktop environments. Customers with on-premises VDI environments could use VMware Cloud on AWS as a disaster recovery site. Because ONTAP Cloud uses the same data services as the on-premises storage system, it’s easy to manage the replication of user data to the cloud. To replicate user data or home directories to the cloud, just use SnapMirror to incrementally synchronize on-premises appliances with ONTAP Cloud. Or, if you just want a backup, you can use SnapVault® software with ONTAP Cloud to create a cloud-based backup of your data.
We’re not finished thinking about how we might do even more together. Customers are asking us to provide unique and powerful benefits by enabling easier sharing of data across multiple virtual machines as-is, since this sharing is often required for companies that are leveraging the cloud to perform analytics or when executing DevOps. We know that our customers want a simplified way to introduce secure hybrid cloud storage options with minimal change to existing operations, and this is a first step in creating that bridge.